The North Norfolk Railway (NNR) and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway
(NYMR) have teamed up to bring a regular service of steam hauled dining
trains to the Norfolk resort of Cromer, with its first service taking
place this week.
In 2010 the NNR opened a link with the National
Rail network when they re-instated the level crossing at Sheringham to
connect with the Bittern branch line to Cromer and Norwich. Since then
the heritage railway has been looking at ways to develop greater use of
the link, and last year promoted a pilot series of dining trains running
through from the NNR station at Sheringham to Cromer operated on their
behalf by charter operator West Coast Railways.
Running on just
four days, the 2016 trial proved that there was a strong market appeal
for such trains which all sold out rapidly. With a view to establishing
services to Cromer as a regular feature, and to ensure their ongoing
viability, NNR sought advice and help from NYMR who have over ten years’
experience operating trains over Network Rail’s Esk Valley line.
result has been a unique partnership between the two heritage railways
which, through a staged approach, should in due course lead to NNR
operating their own trains over Network Rail from Sheringham to Cromer
though operating further afield is a possible option being considered.
In stage one, starting in July, such trains will be operated by NYMR, as
an existing licensed operator on Network Rail, under a revised safety
certificate. A second stage will see NNR develop their own passenger
licence and safety certificate applications to enable them to take over
the direct operation of trains on Network Rail.
NNR managing director said, “Development of services to Cromer has been a
long-held ambition for the North Norfolk Railway. So, we are most
grateful to our friends at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, not only
for their willingness to share their experience, but also their
readiness to help us to get started by taking on the role of train
operator. We believe that collaboration of this nature between two
heritage railways is unprecedented, and it is our hope that both
railways will benefit from working so closely together.”
Price, NYMR general manager said, “The North Yorkshire Moors Railway are
delighted to be supporting the North Norfolk Railway in the exciting
project of running regular services to Cromer. Our experience as a
heritage railway working with, and operating over, Network Rail enables
us to assist NNR in this very practical way. While this helps them to
realise a dream, NYMR will also benefit through the exchange of ideas
and sharing of experience more generally.”
Helping with project
management has been NYMR’s former managing director, Philip Benham.
Commenting on progress he said, “The widespread co-operation from rail
industry parties, so vital to success of the project, has been most
encouraging. The Network Rail teams, in both the Anglia and LNE & EM
routes, have been particularly supportive. Similarly ORR have been
extremely helpful, especially the Inspectorate who gave swift but
thorough consideration to our safety certificate application.”